It’s a different venue and a different crowd this year. But my guiding principles remain the same – to give maximum value to the audience who spent the next one hour listening to me at this year’s Career & Education 2013 Fair: Navigating Your Future. Held at Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Center this year, it’s a repeat of the same topic I spoke last year. At the invitation of the organisers for the third year running, welcome to today’s talk titled the Art of Conversation.
 
Seats were quickly taken up and others who came after I started joined in by standing at the back. Besides the size of the crowd (which was a pleasure to see on a Sunday afternoon), what I really enjoyed was the energy of the crowd. ‘Tis said that good energy rubs off good energy. And this was what happened.
 
Normally, my communication workshops run for at least one day. It’s a difficult task to condense everything in the one hour slot I was given as there’s just so much to talk about. Going back to the basis of communication was what I did. Like an onion being peeled to its deepest layers, understanding the 5Ws and 1H of how a smooth flowing conversation works is the key to successful communication.
 
Using the analogy of breakfast, I asked the audience if they had breakfast. Well knowing their reply, it was an example of a close ended question. I need not be a psychic to know what their possible replies would be. It could only be “yes” or “no”.
 
Changing my asking tactic this time, I reformulated my question – “what did you eat for breakfast?” The response this time was different as it ran the gamut of possibilities, from Mcdonalds big breakfast to carrot cake to bread with half boiled eggs! In the same vein, I could also have asked another possible question “where did you go for breakfast” and again the response could be something I could not have figured out so easily.
 
Kicking off on the simple yet often overlooked core of communication (which is to build rapport with others) allowed the audience to be eased in slowly to the various tools which I teach at my communication workshops. Giving a brief but concise snapshot, this included the various communication styles. Stretch out our fingers and you realise that the length of our five fingers are all of dissimilar lengths. In the same vein, people come in all shapes and sizes…and use different modes of communication.
 
Lest you start to sound the alarm, fret not. Even though people use different communication modes, we can still read them with a high degree of accuracy. I read people based on the way they dress and the way they behave. And then I spin my topics around these observations.
 
And this was the little secret I let my audience in today…
 
When you are enjoying what you do, time always passes so quickly. Soon, it was time for me to exit the stage…
 
Till Career 2014, it’s now time to start putting what you have learnt into practice and become a master at the art of conversation in your own rights.

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The importance of communication cannot be overemphasized. Without communication, human life would be practically non-existent. How do you think we would be able to convey our message, thoughts and emotions across on a personal level to others? If communication did not exist, we would all be living in our own little secluded world.
 
Communication forms the bedrock of all our daily activities, starting from the every moment we wake up each morning to the time we retire to get our rest each night. 
 
Most importantly, I am of the view that effective communication skills is the key to a effective relationship. If you communicate well with people in your lives (eg. family, friends, colleagues, bosses etc), you are in a better position to understand what people expect of you and in return, what you can expect of them.
 
What goes around comes around. Good communication minimizes misunderstandings as it removes all the guess work from the equation. 
 
Returning on a triumphant note after last month’s run is today’s encore version of ‘Communicating With Impact’ for the non-uniformed officers from Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). It took a mere three weeks to put together today’s run and for this alone, I am grateful for the support and love past participants have shown in sharing positive feedback from what they have learnt. 
 
Did I mention positive feedback is also a form of communication? Yes, it is a form of verbal communication. As human beings, our word of mouth advertising is much more powerful than a paid advertisement. Just think about it – if a restaurant sells awful food, would you recommend it? No! Because if you did, someone would throw you rotten tomatoes for a lousy recommendation. Conversely, if the food was finger-licking good, you would not hesitate for a moment to recommend it to your family, friends and colleagues. That’s why I was more than happy to see some familiar faces in the room today as the ladies had attended my past life profiling workshop. How we communicate and the message we attempt to send across are the dual keys to communicate with impact.
 
In this age and time, we want to make ourselves and our messages heard. Good communication skills are valued not only in the workplace, but also in our daily lives. And it transcends gender, interest and all other social boundaries :)

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